Climate Pledge Arena to host NBA preseason game this October

The Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers will perform at the Rain City Showcase on October 3rd. It will be the first NBA game in Seattle since 2018.

SEATTLE — The NBA is returning to Seattle this October for a preseason game at the Climate Pledge Arena, officials said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The Portland Trail Blazers will take on the Los Angeles Clippers in the Climate Pledge on Oct. 3, which marks the first time the NBA has played a game at the KeyArena in Seattle since 2018.

Tickets for the game, dubbed the “Rain City Showcase,” go on sale July 6th.

“Just the buzz, the energy, the excitement, the unifying element in this city,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “That kind of revitalization, if you will. That kind of noise is bringing our city back.”

Clippers chief executive Gillian Zucker said the idea for the game started with a brainstorming session between Clippers head coach Ty Lue and Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups.

Lue just wanted to compete against his former NBA colleague, she said.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing NBA basketball back to Seattle with this game,” Zucker said.

Former Supersonic Lenny Wilkens said he “kicked and screamed” when traded to Seattle ahead of the 1968-69 season.

Wilkens spent four seasons with the SuperSonics before embarking on a legendary NBA coaching career. He is currently the third-winning NBA coach in league history with 1,332 wins.

“But I’m still here,” Wilkens said. “I have learned to love this area, the people, the community. There is nothing else in the world like it and I have had the opportunity to be everywhere.”

Former Rainier Beach high school star Jamal Crawford said he worked at the old Key Arena as a kid, bringing pretzels to the vendors. Crawford said he would often make a 10-minute-in-30-minute trip to see NBA games up close.

He later rose from local basketball star to NBA player in a long 20-year career.

“I looked out there and just dreamed,” Crawford said. “When I was a kid, the Sonics were everything to me.”

Crawford said the league, which features Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard in a preseason game in Seattle, will inspire another generation of kids who dream of making it to the NBA.

“It’s bringing out a whole new generation of kids who need to see this, need to be able to dream and know this is real,” Crawford said.

The Climate Pledge Arena, which opened in 2021, is home to the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. The arena is 800,000 square feet and has a capacity of 17,459 people.

What are the odds of Seattle getting an NBA team again?

That’s the elephant in the room following this announcement.

The NBA is not returning to Seattle tomorrow or next week. But the lines of communication remain more active and open than they have been for years.

The franchise left nearly 14 years ago when the league voted to allow the SuperSonics to invade the Oklahoma prairies. A financial settlement between the then mayor and the ownership group on July 2, 2008 was the final straw, allowing the team to relocate and be rebranded under a different name.

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Since then, fans and sentimentalists have hung on to every whiff of information and statements that could lead to an NBA return, whether it be a land deal, a quote, or a flirtation with city leadership.

“The chances are good,” Harrell said on March 2. “We’re in it very intentionally. I’m chasing rumors and I’m chasing real people who are capable of making this happen. I feel good about our opportunity.”

Harrell’s predecessor, former Mayor Jenny Durkan, said in January 2021 that she had reached out to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and was “pretty optimistic” about the team’s return to Seattle.

The SuperSonics spent 41 seasons in Seattle, from 1968 to 2008. Seattle defeated the Washington Bullets to capture their first NBA championship in the 1978-79 season. Climate Pledge Arena to host NBA preseason game this October

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